Beheading suspect goes silent in court

Daily Post Staff Writer

The man charged with beheading his ex-girlfriend with a sword in San Carlos fell silent during cross-examination today (Nov. 13), refusing to answer questions posed by the prosecutor.

Jose Rafael Solano Landaeta, 34, took the stand in the morning, answering questions from his attorney about the day of Sept. 8, 2022, when he killed Karina Castro, 27, in front of her apartment at 400 Laurel Street.
Landaeta testified he doesn’t remember killing Castro, he recalls the fight they were in and then being in his car after.

When prosecutor Josh Stauffer began his cross-examination of Landaeta, he became despondent and refused to answer questions. After about five minutes, he asked to go to the bathroom and Judge Lisa Novak called for a brief recess, according to District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

This began a series of starts and stops of Stauffer trying to ask Landaeta a question, Landaeta refusing, and pauses in the trial, the DA said. This went on for about an hour before Judge Novak ended yesterday’s proceedings around 3 p.m.

Landaeta’s attorney, Robert Cummings, said during opening arguments last week that his client acted in “imperfect self-defense” because of threats from Castro and that she had two knives, a pink one and a black one, and had taken a swing at Landaeta during their argument. Cummings did not say how long the knives were. Castro’s knives were not recovered by police. Her father found the pink knife in her car after getting it back from police and threw it away, Cummings said.

Landaeta had refused to appear in court for opening arguments. Since Landaeta did not have “good cause” to skip court, he was advised of his rights and waived his right to be present.

Landaeta had withdrawn his plea of innocent by reason of insanity before the trial began. Innocent by reason of insanity means the defendant was not sane at the time of the crime.
The trial will resume tomorrow afternoon.